This is the story of a company that found itself abruptly in need of a new communications program after its long-standing celebrity spokesperson suddenly was placed very unfavorably in the public’s eye. It’s a success story of how with the right planning, a sound strategy and quick execution, a new advertising campaign was up in market, replacing the existing one, in a matter of weeks.
But let’s start at the beginning. Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company that works with some of the world’s most successful companies. Its reach extends into a plethora of industries and across business functions employing approximately 211,000 people and serving clients in over 120 countries. It competes for large contracts, with the most lucrative being multi-year engagements worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
For six years Tiger Woods served as the centerpiece and metaphor for Accenture’s successful High Performance Delivered global advertising and integrated marketing campaign. Following a series of high-profile personal indiscretions by Tiger, on December 13, 2009, Accenture concluded that recent events had compromised his ability to effectively deliver on the company’s advertising and integrated marketing message. It was a critical time in Accenture’s history. Tiger Woods wasn’t just used as a spokesperson, he was an integral part of the brand’s global marketing efforts – the website, collateral materials, and internal communications were all branded with Tiger and the High Performance messaging. There was a lot at stake to come up with a replacement program that would be equally effective and at the same time maintain the integrity of the brand.
As a result, Accenture’s key focus was to get a new communications program in market – at speed. Within one month from severing ties, Accenture had created, tested and globally launched a new forward-thinking advertising and integrated marketing campaign that seamlessly continued to position Accenture as the partner of choice to help companies achieve high performance.
Program Objectives, Planning & Research
Essentially the overarching driver was to find a replacement campaign that performed equally as well, or better, than the prior Tiger Woods work. And to get it in market quickly.
For Accenture advertising, the target audience is the crème de la crème of the corporate world. Those who are essentially responsible for hiring consultants typically reside in the upper most levels of large organizations -- the “C-Suite.” And since Accenture concentrates on large scale consulting, technology and outsourcing engagements, these individuals are found in large multi-national companies. Given the nature of its target audience, Accenture needed something big to break through the sameness with a truly interesting and unexpected idea. To grab the target audience’s attention and present the Accenture brand in a very favorable light. To move beyond the Tiger work and get the marketplace to forget that it had even been there. So the specific objectives for the new Accenture campaign were to:
• Goal 1. Minimize Risk/Repair Any Potential Brand Damage.
• Goal 2. Break Through and Get Noticed.
• Goal 3. Brand and Own High Performance Business Concept.
• Goal 4. Create a Favorable Image.
Since the goal was to get into market as quickly as possible with a replacement campaign, qualitative research was used to measure the work against the above objectives. Additionally, Accenture monitored the website to gauge marketplace reaction to the new work.
Despite the suddenness of events, Accenture was in a good position to move forward. Development of alternative creative options (that did not include Tiger or another spokesperson) had been taking place for the past two years so the brand had a good jump on new campaigns. Over the years Accenture had developed a broad set of principles, a compelling set of practical insights and a rich collection of published work on the drivers of high performance and how organizations can achieve it. This perspective coupled with its unparalleled experience provided the foundation for the new advertising and integrated marketing program. But the real task before Accenture was taking all this information and making a series of straight-forward insights and research facts come alive in way that would grab the target and make them want to pay attention. To do this, Accenture turned to a series of very simple and clever animal metaphors that were executed in a highly unexpected way.
Capitalizing on bold and surprising visual animal metaphors, the new campaign extended Accenture’s longstanding High Performance Delivered brand positioning. It also highlighted key drivers of high performance including: sustainable success, innovation, organizational agility, and operational excellence. The campaign channels issues that are on the minds of clients and prospects, expressing complex business challenges in clever metaphors that are relevant, impactful and easily understood. Accenture ended up with a campaign that they knew hit home and that worked all around the world.
Accenture’s new Metaphors campaign replaced the Tiger Woods campaign in a matter of four weeks. Launched on January 14, 2010, the scope, complexity and timing of the campaign were extraordinary – with more than 350 posters appearing in 71 airports in 30 countries in under a month’s time. Print ads launched January 27, 2010 and television executions entered the marketplace on February 17, 2010. So by mid-February Accenture had a new multi-media communications program in place in roughly two months time.
Accenture’s communications strategy was to surround the target audience where he/she lives, works and plays. Since most C-suite executives travel roughly 50% of the time, a foundational component of Accenture’s channel strategy was designed to “own the airports” globally with large, visual posters that the target would see both boarding in one city, and exiting in another. Airport posters were difficult to execute quickly given their long lead times and with the rollout taking place over the Christmas holidays. However, Accenture mobilized the right resources to make it happen in a way that appeared seamless. Accenture’s integrated marketing campaign creates further impact beyond advertising through: accenture.com, social media, targeted events, Accenture High Performance Business Podcast Series, Accenture Outlook thought leadership magazine.
Summary of Results
Accenture’s qualitative research and marketplace feedback indicated that the new Metaphors campaign was a winner, in some ways even outperforming the long-standing, award-winning Tiger Woods work. Accenture’s new advertising and integrated marketing campaign continues its tradition of excellence, while building equity in high performance and the Accenture brand. Target audience qualitative research with over 200 senior executives demonstrates success on the following:
• Goal 1. Minimize Risk/Repair Any Potential Brand Damage. Discussions with Senior Executives revealed that Accenture’s decision to drop Tiger as a spokesperson was the right one. Particularly for a sponsor that was using him more at the value level, there was no way that brand could minimize what had happened and move forward with him. The new work was very favorably received and was seen as better in many ways than the Tiger campaign.
• Goal 2. Break Through and Get Noticed. The new imagery was seen as arresting, innovative and differentiating. Just about all the respondents felt that they would notice the work if they were to come across it in the media landscape.
• Goal 3. Brand And Own High Performance Business Concept. The campaign was seen as a strong transition from the previous one, and the ads produced scored at or above Accenture’s testing benchmarks for effectiveness. The campaign was also described as even more effective than the previous campaign in showcasing Accenture’s ability to be a powerful business partner to help clients achieve high performance.
• Goal 4. Create a Favorable Image. Both the message and visuals were seen as clever, smart and innovative. The work succeeded in conveying a tonality that contributed to important attributes that the target looks for in consultants.
Additionally, positive media articles appeared in leading press touting the Metaphors campaign’s launch and success including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. Finally, the campaign generated unprecedented interest in Accenture as evident by traffic to accenture.com:
• Unique visitors to accenture.com were up 90% on launch day.
• Page views were up 27% on launch day.
• During the first two weeks following the launch, the Advertising Overview page received over 50,000 page views and had over 43,000 unique visitors. Visitors also downloaded 13,000 advertising images.